This week, I was recognised at the Advertising Week Europe Future is Female awards. A real honour and has got me thinking more broadly about female leadership and whether the future of female leadership is still something we still need to actively work on.
Short answer – yes, absolutely it is.
But we need to expand our focus to broader including leadership. As a female leader, I believe that the future looks even brighter when we foster inclusivity across all aspects of leadership.
While my profile may not immediately convey innovation or empowerment, I am a culmination of diverse and contrasting experiences that have moulded my professional identity. Being the sole female representative in numerous meetings and rooms has made me realise the significance of active participation. By actively engaging in the present, we can shape the future by contributing our unique perspectives.
Traditionally, being in such rooms meant emulating the behaviours of existing leaders, who were predominantly men. However, true growth and development come from diverse interactions, challenging perspectives, and embracing differences. Creating a workplace environment that encourages collaboration and interaction, rather than competition, requires using our individuality to stand out, disarm, and persuade. Paradoxically, vulnerability can be a source of strength, enabling personal and professional growth.
Learning from various styles, approaches, and backgrounds is more critical than ever. Leaders have a responsibility to understand and appreciate the influences, biases, and experiences of those around us. Homogeneity stifles innovation and impedes progress. By providing a seat at the table for individuals who might not have an obvious place, we foster a transformative dynamic that drives meaningful change.
The future of female leadership is inseparable from the future of successful leadership as a whole. It requires openness, flexibility, and the ability to forge connections even when they seem absent. Effective communication, a thirst for knowledge, and fair decision-making are essential qualities. I am grateful to authors Matthew Syed, Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis, for inspiring me with their works on cognitive diversity (Rebel Ideas) and non-linear career paths (The Squiggly Career), respectively. These books have provided me with inspiration, confidence, and fresh perspectives.
By harnessing our individual and collective diversity effectively and allowing it room to breathe, we can shape a future of leadership that is truly exciting to occupy.
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